Lain Ehmann is CEO and co-founder of Ella Publishing Co. A former “Simple Scrapbooks” contributing editor, she is the author of “Snippets: Mostly True Tales from the Lighter Side of Scrapbooking.” She blogs at Five Things.
Why can’t we all get along?
American Crafts buys Pebbles, Inc. Rhonna Farrer, Heidi Swapp, and Janet Hopkins band together to create House of Three. Colorbok buys Heidi Grace from Fiskars. In addition to creating an entertaining game of corporate musical chairs to observe, mergers and partnerships like these say that the time of cooperation is at hand for the scrapbooking industry.
Social media is ushering in a new era of interactivity between companies, even those who appear to be at odds with each other. The Internet is such big property that one company or entity can’t cover it all, and the only way to make an impact is to team up. A great example of this is our very own Nancy Nally working with Noell Hyman of Paperclipping. Instead of viewing each other as competitors, they’ve teamed up to bring a very valuable – and fun! – resource to the scrapbooking community via Paperclipping News Break.
An area where I’ve seen rampant and impressive RAKs (random acts of kindness, for the uninitiated) is in the digital scrapbooking arena. In my experience, digital designers go above and beyond to promote other digital designers. For example, in a recent article for Ella Publishing Co.’s Scrapbook Ellaments eZine, digital designer Jodie McNally sang the praises of Paislee Press. “When I’m in need of a perfectly precise, quirky quote… I go straight to Paislee Press,” she writes. It reminds me of the scene in “Miracle on 34thStreet” when Macy’s gained tons of great press when their Santa Claus forwarded children on to competitors when the toy they wanted couldn’t be had in-store. Not to call “Scrooge,” but when’s the last time you heard Stampin’ Up! sending people over to Close to My Heart?
Speaking of good ole’ Stampin’ Up!, they’ve been taking quite a beating lately. When they mandated that their demonstrators sever Internet ties with non-SU entities, the backlash was swift and immediate, with many demonstrators choosing to lay down their Stampin’ Up! aprons rather than forsake their friendships. The statement was clear: Consumers, employees, and industry bystanders have seen the power of connection and aren’t willing to relinquish their personal or professional networks in favor of corporate short-sightedness. And they shouldn’t have to.
Despite the economic realities of our times, the scrapbooking pie is a large one. Rare is the consumer who uses exclusively one product line; most have scrap rooms where Fiskars punches are used on Bazzill cardstock, and Fancy Pants patterned paper co-exists peacefully on the shelf next to Piggy Tales. It’s time for the manufacturers to realize the next generation is about interaction and support, not exclusivity and isolationism.
For manufacturers and designers who want to make their way in today’s social media but don’t know how, here are a few starting points:
Twitter. Open a Twitter account and freely offer your expertise and support to those around you – yes, even to your competitors! If that’s too big a step, start with companies or designers who sell complementary products rather than competing ones.
Facebook. Become a Facebook fan of a competitor. When you do so, the news is relayed to your entire network – what a powerful statement of solidarity!
Blogs. Mention a cool product you saw from a competitor on your blog. Go over to their blog and leave a supportive comment. Or in your next tutorial, use products from a competitor and give them credit. Instant karma boost!
To me, the future is clear: Those who pair up and work together will prosper, while those who insist on going it alone will suffer and eventually die off. Survival for all of us in this global economy, in this recession, depends on partnerships. After all, if you Tweet in the forest and there’s no one around to hear it, does it make any noise?